A MUSEUM OF IMMORTALITY
Design Week Mexico, Museo Tamayo, Mexico City
Nikolaus Hirsch and Michel Müller
Museum of Immortality II
Mexico City, 2016
For Design Week Mexico architects Nikolaus Hirsch and Michel Müller construct a hypothetical model of a Museum of Immortality, based on a concept by philosopher Boris Groys and a first realization in the form of an exhibition organized by Anton Vidokle at Ashkal Alwan in Beirut (2014).
The structure developed for the Design Week Mexico is situated at the park entrance of the Museum Tamayo. Reminiscent of both sarcopharguses and museum vitrines the modules are assembled into a 6 x 6 and 8 m high hexagonal architectonic structure. After the horizontal system in Beirut the new structure in Mexico City will become the Museum of Immortality´s first vertical configuration, resembling a hybrid between mausoleum and space capsule. The museal preservation of objects joins concepts of human conservation and resurrection.
The architectural structure the Museo Tamayo will be contextualized by a video by (Anton Vidokle/credits tbc) that gives insights into the conceptual approach (for instance through an interview with Boris Groys) while documenting the artistic contributions to individual modules shown in the Beirut exhibition.
Museum of Immortality
In the 1880-1890s Russian philosopher Nikolai Fedorov developed the project of „Common Task“. It fascinated and influenced many illustrious readers such as Leo Tolstoy, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, and Vladimir Solov’ev. In summary, Federov’s project of the common task consists of the creation of the technological, social, and political conditions under which it would be possible to resurrect all men who have ever lived—through technological, artificial means. Here the Christian promise of immortality had to be realized by technological means. Above all, however, Fedorov believed in the power of social organization, and in this sense he was a true socialist. The true social justice meant for Fedorov also the justice for the dead – the end of the privileging of the living in their relationship to the dead. The artificially produced immortality was for him the way to unite the right technology with the right social organization. After the October revolution Fedorov’s ideas became especially attractive because the materialist philosophy built the core of the Communist ideology. There was even a political party of Cosmists-Immortalists that tried to realize this project of materialist immortality.
Now Fedorov considered the museum as an institution that could and should become the basis for the immortalization of the whole mankind. He believed, namely, that the technique of museal conservation is a kind of anti-technique because it does not produce new things but cares about the old ones. The museum is thus fundamentally at odds with progress, which necessarily replaces old things with new things. The museum is a machine for making things immortal. Now each human being is also merely a thing among other things – and so the museum’s anti-technique can be extended also on the conservation of the human beings. According to Fedorov’s project, at the first stage of its realization the museum should become the museum of all human beings without exception: in this universal museum to every human being should be allocated a room in which everything that is related to this human being should be collected: organic stuffs (urine, hair etc.) as well as personal belongings of this person, the images of this person, memories by this person’ relatives and friends etc. (In a certain way Fedorov’s project of the universal museum reminds one of the Merzbau by Kurt Schwitters that, of course, memorized and potentially immortalized only one person – the artist himself).
Now from the contemporary perspective Fedorov’s project strikes one as being extremely up to date at least in following two aspects:
a. Radical democratization of the museum. Here everyone becomes not only an artist but an artwork. And Nietzsche has already contended that to be an artwork is much better than to be an artist. Fedorov practices an institutional critique of the museum for its selective strategies but he will not to dissolve but, rather, to strengthen the museum.
b. Reversal of the progress. Fedorov tries to turn the technique back – against the flow of capital, against the economic growth and against the military use of technique. In his writings he insists time and again on this anti-market, anti-capitalist intention of his project: the technique should serve the immortality of all people and things – not their destruction. This Fedorov’s attitude seems especially actual today as the technological progress is experienced increasingly more as dangerous than as promising – but at the same time as inescapable.
Architects: Nikolaus Hirsch / Michel Müller
Local Architects: CUBICA Arquitectos + LXL Arquitectos
Team: Nikolaus Hirsch, Michel Müller, Rodrigo Luna, Israel Ruis, Patrick dos Santos Domingos
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